From time to time someone will comment to me after Mass with a sigh of relief, "That Mass was so peaceful. I didn't hear a single crying baby!" When I hear a comment like that I usually think to myself, "How sad. Not a single crying baby!" Obviously there is a time when a crying baby needs to be taken temporarily out to the atrium, but the church that has no crying babies in its midst is the church that is about to die.
Day by day I encounter people in those human warehouses we call nursing homes totally alone, just biding their time until they die. They have no one to visit them in some cases because, in their attempt to create a successful world for themselves and to give the world to their 2.5 children, they created a world that was barren. The few children to whom they did give life thought the world revolved around them.
In our 'enlightened' efforts to control our fertility people of the so-called 'developed' world for some time now have espoused a birthrate that is well below replacement levels. Many economies around the world such as Japan are already feeling the pain of an aging population that can no longer support those retired and those unable to work. In the United States statistics show that immigration is the one thing that has held off the day of reckoning.
Our Catholic Church has received from God a beautiful teaching that helps us to recognize every marriage as an opportunity to reveal God's faithful love in the world and every human life as an expression of the creative power of that love. This teaching was beautifully reiterated by the soon to be Canonized, Pope Paul VI in his letter entitled "Humanae Vitae", which translates, "Of Human Life'. This Encyclical letter marked its 50th Anniversary at the end of July.
This biblically based teaching reveals the privilege given to husbands and wives to share in God's greatest work. We are invited to see ourselves as cooperators in God's work rather than the manipulators of it. A married couple is called to prayerfully and courageously place themselves at the disposition of God's plan for their lives. They should certainly seek to use the very cycles of fertility God has placed into nature to space their childbearing (Natural Family Planning), but this should always be with a spirit of openness and trust that what God sends He will also provide for.
More and more we discover that when we human beings see ourselves as controllers, rather than cooperators, masters of the world in which we live, rather than stewards of it, we tend to leave nothing but destruction in our wake. In the name of freedom and liberation we have sold women artificial contraceptives, which are now recognized by the World Health Organization to be carcinogens and which cause numerous other health problems.
Rather than freeing women contraception has rendered them objects of lust more than ever before. Separating out the possibility that life could result from a sexual encounter has led men and women to reduce sex to little more than a form of recreation. In these years that contraception was supposed to be liberating women, instead we have seen pornography and unanticipated pregnancies explode and marriage implode. What advance for womankind is this?
I pray that we, especially we Catholics, will soon see the error of our ways and recognize the awesome gift and great joy that comes when married couples generously give their lives to God and His Providential plan. Children are truly our greatest treasure and a blessing beyond measure to a family and to our Christian Community. May God grant us a whole chorus of crying babies!
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz